Dweezil Zappa Shows You Polyrhythms, Phrasings, Picking Techniques, and More

Dweezil Zappa is too often taken for granted. His live-show tour-de-force, Zappa Plays Zappa, really goes to town on some of the toughest music out there (and often on some of the toughest charts of the toughest music). He’s also an accomplished guitar player in his own right, who developed his own little, pretty simple to understand musical language for improvisation.


People tend to overlook how big improv was to Frank Zappa, focusing instead on the convoluted charts and virtuosic nature of his lines and bands. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a recording in the Zappa oeuvre that doesn’t have an improvised solo in it. And for my money, Zappa as a musician had some of his best moments during spontaneous solo passages.

What’s nice about the Zappa-family improv language is that it’s fairly easy to master for beginners, which is why I want to draw your attention to some recent instructional videos filmed by Dweezil for his new instructional video series, “Dweezology: Phrase Generators,” via TrueFire. Most of the solo sections in Zappa’s music revolve around one chord (Zappa did not like to play over multiple changes – my theory is that as a self-taught player and general despiser of the American songbook and jazz instruction, he actually just didn’t have the technical improv capacity to do so), so these lessons are extremely applicable to all sorts of metal, which also often places solos underneath a solitary chord or modal riff pattern.

These lessons aren’t just about improv though – some of them you can use to just add a new lick or phrase pattern to your practice routine. Since they’re just a sample of the full course, some of them are out of order, but they all hover within the same general theoretical sphere. Enjoy!

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.

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